What is the protocol for a merger or reconstruction of a job?

Technically my employer is a very large company but my place of employment is actually a smaller division in which the overall company bought out a competitor and now we have merged. Today they informed us that in order to align jobs with the newer company, we will have to apply for our jobs, only it’s not the same job we do now, it will be 2 jobs combined into 1 which is not what I was originally hired for. They are holding a job fair for us tomorrow to find out how to apply and go over job descriptions for positions that most of us aren’t experienced in and not interested in. The jobs will be posted in the next 3 days, interviews scheduled at the end of the week, with interviews taking place at the beginning of next week. They can’t tell us how many roles are available, what happens if we don’t apply or what would happen to our current roles if we don’t apply but strongly suggest we apply. I’m having a hard time with the legal aspects because I know this company has got to be covering their tracks with paper trails and such to go about it in the right way but we can’t get answers to important questions and have less than a week to act on this. Can anyone provide insight?

Asked on June 13, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Does this action violate the terms of a union agreement or employment contract? Does it in some way constititute some form of legally actionable discrimination? If not, then it is perfectly permissable. While seemingly unfair to you and your co-workers, it is legal. The fact is that most employment arrangements are what is known as "at will". This means that a company can set the terms of employment must as it sees fit or deems necessary. For their part, an employee can either comply, complain and risk termination, or quit.

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